Of the Earth

September 1 – December 9, 2017 | Sandra J. Blain Gallery

Of the Earth: Selections from Arrowmont’s Permanent Collection

Curated by Arrowmont’s Gallery Manager, Kelly Hider, Of the Earth is a show of somber reflections amid uncertain times. Many of the included artists use natural imagery and materials to speak poetically about the diverse and interconnected sorrows we share upon our planet. At times the works are clearly mournful as in Kristine Spindler-Gunnell’s People of the Rafia Palm. Spindler-Gunnell depicts a group mourning the apparent death of a loved one who lay at their feet. Surrounding them all is a turbulent sea of shifting geometric patterns. An ominous mood pervades the majority of the pieces found in this show, highlighting the sense of foreboding. In Amy Puthoff’s Before the Hallows Settle Into Bone, a bodiless pair of legs dangles from the top of the composition, implying a recent hanging by unknown circumstances. A huddle of abstracted figures stands together in the sculptural Council of Men, by Victor Brosz. Tiny heads pressed inward – could they be seeking warmth? Whispering forbidden secrets? Or could they be not figures but an unlit pyre, stoic in their wait for the first flame to ignite them? One of the key players of this exhibition is the collective color scheme of the works as a whole, like that of smoldering cinders. Earthy, scorched surfaces like those found in the ceramic vessels by Merritt Kardatzke and Rosa Kennedy speak of lasting through such fiery and chaotic processes. The flame-red fox of Ted Ramsey’s mixed media piece, Directional Change, stares directly into the viewer’s eyes – a bold and jarring confrontation. Some of the works sift through the ashes to find remnants of hope, such as Emily Schubert’s ShhCan You Hear It?, where two young children curiously peer into the leafy branches of the trees overhead, whose roots meanwhile grow deep below them and intertwine, as if holding hands under ground among the lively dirt dwellers. Arrowmont Spring Break, by Allison Christie offers a cool meditation of an undisturbed winter scene, snow piled on lawn furniture, no footprints in sight. Jerry Drown’s photograph, Birch Tree, Little River, shows a thriving wood also devoid of human intervention, a small moment to pause and savor. We are all of the Earth, these works say. The Earth has forever been our collective home, observer, victim. And the Earth goes on, with and despite us.

Exhibition description written by Max Adrian.

Arrowmont’s permanent collection includes nearly 1,000 works in a variety of arts and crafts media, including fiber, ceramics, wood, metals, and mixed media work. Made by the hands of current and past Arrowmont instructors, individuals from the settle school’s days, and past artists-in-residence, the works represent the arts and craft school’s history, present, and future.

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